The Mom Code
Working with teenagers brings special challenges—and spectacular joys.
Personal Trainer: Andrea Hammer, owner and president of Hammer Health and Fitness
Location: Coral Springs, Florida
It’s tough being a teenager in the best of times, but when you struggle with weight—and you struggle with your mom about your weight—life can seem pretty overwhelming. Thirteen-year-old Gabi was right in the middle of it all. At 5-feet, 1-inch tall and 184 pounds, she was smart and sweet—but also anxious and depressed.
Gabi’s mom was struggling, too, through those age-old dynamics between mothers and their teenage daughters. That’s when multicertified trainer Andrea Hammer joined the trio, becoming a support for Gabi’s mom and a neutral place for Gabi to express her feelings and learn new skills.
Trust in Action
Hammer set the stage for success in the very first meeting. “For Gabi, it was important to have another person to confide in,” says Hammer. “I promised Gabi I would keep her confidence—but if ever there was anything critical, I was bound by professional and moral ethics to share it with her mom.”
Hammer—a mother herself—called it the “Mom Code,” and asked for Gabi’s trust. “She and her mom filled out my health assessments and agreements, and we were good to go.”
The two began with Hammer’s “walk and talk,” something she does with her clients to exercise both body and mind. “I want to know what makes you happy and what you are willing to do to reach your goals. My openness and immediate belief in Gabi were her impetus to being committed to working with me.”
In Gabi’s case, she loved gymnastics. “Though she was quite flexible and strong, she was the biggest girl on the team . . . inside she felt uncomfortable,” Hammer explains. “My plan for Gabi was twofold: Use the strength she already had and redirect it mentally as well as physically, and not harp about the food. Her mom, she said, was always on her about what she ate.” Hammer shared her Food and Nutrition Guide and told Gabi they could discuss it when she was ready.
Treats and Cheats
They began with exercise—something Gabi already enjoyed. “We came up with creative ways to do strength training, including pressing and lifting dumbbells while trotting or doing jumping jacks on the trampoline.”
Other programming included upper-body and ab drills; MaxPAC™ workouts, from a program Hammer created; resistance band and stability ball exercises; lunges, squats, rows, side planks, mountain climbers and burpees; drills on elliptical and recumbent bikes; and fun workouts outside with jumping rope, skipping and more.
“She loved learning about her body and was greatly improving every time we met. The scale was tipping; her heart was flipping!”
Gabi soon realized that food mattered, too, and was ready to learn more. Along with lessons about nutrient density, she needed help with balance. “She became obsessed with the scale. This concerned me, so we had a chat about enjoying foods and not freaking out about every bite. I explained that ‘treating’ yourself was mindfully choosing to have a small, tasty delight and being happy about it. ‘Cheating’ evokes guilt and shame for having that bite. I have a hard stop on that! She soon learned to appreciate that big difference.”
Over the 18 months she trained with Hammer, Gabi lost 60 pounds and gained self-confidence and a strong sense of empowerment—even through a myriad of family changes and challenges. “She told me it was our training that kept her sane and focused on her future. Exercise helped her work off the weight, and our talks helped her ‘work out the hurt.’” And she and her mom are now closer than ever.
Hammer adds: “I was moved by the heart of this young girl. Gabi feels beautiful. She is now the young woman she always wanted to be.”
See also: Teen Fitness Matters
What’s Your Story?
Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected], and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of Fitness Journal.
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